Having had my fill of relaxing on holiday, something I am temperamentally unsuited for, I decided to walk to the Nairobi National Museum. Whilst not far, it did involve crossing a ditch over a small plank of wood and walking the wrong way down a motorway. Fun! There was a nice moment where you can see the stream that separates the hotel from the rear entrance to the museum.
There are three main parts to the Museum; the Museum proper, the Snake House, and the Gardens.
The Museum proper has been open 102 years, a remarkable length of time for any museum, but especially one that has gone through such a significant set of governmental changes as one in Kenya. Whilst it may need a lick of paint on the walls, it is faultless in the care of its treasures.
Naturally, photography is prohibited within the museum, but in many ways walking the camera in hand would have distracted me from appreciating the exhibitions.
The first section explored was the history of the museum, which also referenced some past exhibits that have been moved on, such as the Palaeolithic rock art found in Kenya.
Looking through the past directors and major caretakers, you can make an educated guess as to when Kenyan independence occurred. Between 1961 and 1982 the prevailing skin-tone changes notably, but the eminence of the scientists remains unchanged.
The next gallery is the jewel in the museum’s collection. “Human Origins”. It is the only place in the world where you can see fossil evidence for our evolutionary history in one place, without plaster cast replicas filling in the blanks. A visit would do many of the citizens of Texas and Alabama good.
You look at the skeleton of many and chimpanzee side by side and wonder how people can doubt our cousins.
There is a similar exhibit for local animals and birds, each one carefully laden with facts to help instruct the many school children who come here.
Moving upstairs, it becomes about African art and appears to have more temporary status.
Perhaps the final wing to explore is the history of modern Kenya. A somewhat uncomfortable experience for an Englishman to walk through.
Having explored the museum, I moved along to the Snake House.
The snake house is a series of interconnected buildings holding all manner of fish and reptiles.
The fish and the deadly snakes are behind glass, but there is a range of open enclosures for snakes and turtles.
Two alligators and a crocodile lurk behind woefully thin chicken wire enclosures. When a croc moved to the edge of the pen, all the visitors stepped back with a gasp.
I must confess to not being brave enough to put my lens up against the wire to focus through it for this final croc. It seemed to have some very significant teeth and the chicken wire was very thin.
Finally, the outside. It is a landscaped, but still somewhat wild garden with trees and plants everywhere.
There is a specially designed “Wheel” showcasing the plants providing the many national natural remedies.